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Investment Law and Poverty: Continuing the Debate through UNCTAD’s Investment Policy Framework for Sustainable Development

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The Investment Policy Framework for Sustainable Development (ipfsd) was formulated by unctad, among others, as a response to the challenges that least-developed and developing countries face today – because of their obligations under international investment agreements (iias) – when trying to implement development or poverty alleviation policies. By looking at selected investor-state dispute settlement cases brought against Argentina, Bolivia and South Africa in response to poverty-related regulatory measures, this paper analyses the interpretation of iia clauses by arbitral tribunals, and familiarizes the reader with the policy options provided by the ipfsd. The ipfsd recommends a “new generation” of investment policies that places inclusive growth and sustainable development at the heart of efforts to attract and benefit from foreign direct investment. The ipfsd does not explicitly focus on poverty eradication; however, its comprehensive approach to sustainable development makes of it a policy tool-kit with great potential for policy makers.

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